By Jim Clark
Is the name “Old Trail” merely invented or does it have real meaning?
As a matter of fact, an old trail trod by animals and American Indians was a significant precursor to our modern-day transportation network.
When they named the project, Justin Beights and his family, the original developers of Old Trail, were aware of the existence of an old trail that skirted the western side of Crozet and had become an old road when the area was settled. While they lack positive proof, historians agree that a trail was north of the present site of Old Trail Village, approximately along the route of Jarmans Gap Road.
The path extended from Richmond, at the edge of the Tidewater area, through western Albemarle to the Shenandoah Valley to where Staunton stands today.
Beginning in the 1730s, several Virginia counties started authorizing improvements to the trail for travel by wheeled vehicles, section by section from Richmond to the Valley. The road subsequently became a principal east-west artery between the Piedmont and the Valley going through what became known as Jarmans Gap. At that time it was called the Mountain Road, but that name was replaced with the name Three Notch’d Road by 1743, perhaps to better differentiate the road from others with the same name. Three notches were regularly used as a blaze mark on trees along the road. Most of the old road has been obliterated by land development, although remnants of a road are believed to remain on private property in the vicinity of the Old Trail golf course. Route 240 east of Crozet carries that name to this day.
A turnpike was later built through Rockfish Gap, which was found to be a more suitable crossing of the Blue Ridge, and that caused the abandonment of the road through Jarmans Gap. During the 1930s, U.S. Route 250 became the successor road, and in the 1960s, Interstate 64 was constructed, essentially parallel to the old trail.